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Ethics Across the Generations

Updated: Sep 8

In the latest edition of Business Compliance, guest author Guendalina Donde (Researcher at the Institute of Business Ethics)  writes about “Business Ethics Across Generations: Bridging the Gap.” (Available here for courtesy download) In her work, Ms. Donde breaks down “generations at work” in order to allow ethics and compliance practitioners to calibrate their approach to the characteristics of each generational group, “rather an adopting a one-size-fits-all program.

The groups, as defined by Ms. Donde, are as follows, along with a partial description:

  1. Traditionalists (1922-1945): The ‘hard work in hard time’ generation, they “tend to be hardworking, financially conservative and cautious.” In addition, “they are not very risk-oriented and have great respect for authority.

  2. Baby Boomers (1946-1964): The ‘live to work’ generation, “their long-term commitment is more to their job rather than to a specific organization and they seek personal growth, recognition, and gratification.

  3. Generation X (1965-1982): The ‘work to live’ generation “they developed behaviors of independence, resilience and adaptability more strongly than previous generations, but also a little cynicism and distrust towards authority.”

  4. Millennials (1983-2004): The ‘digital natives,’ “they were brought up with an ‘empowered’ parenting style, which encouraged them to express their opinions and to be self-confident.” In addition, “this group was also raised in a consumer economy and as such expects to influence the terms and conditions of their job.”


A robust #compliance program needs to grasp the #leadership needs among age groups via @IBEUK

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What does this all mean for today’s compliance challenges? According to Ms. Donde, “practitioners need to take these issues into account and develop tailored ways to encourage behaviors from each age group consistent with the organization’s core values.” As to how these groups and shared values can be promoted and leveraged, feel free to download the complete article (here), and read more about how organizations “will benefit from innovative ways of communicating the importance of doing business ethically.”

My appreciation to Laurenz Baltzer, Publisher, and Owner. Baltzer Science Publishers,  for sharing Ms. Donde’s work  with  the compliance community.


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